A businessman with a troubled past is offering to represent victims of Christchurch’s Cryptopia debacle.
Victor Cattermole, who in 2010 abandoned a proposed rescue bid for the ailing Portsmouth football club and whose entities have been criticised by both the Commerce and Securities Commissions, has formed a Facebook group called Cryptopia Rescue, which has about 1000 members.
Cryptopia ran a digital currency exchange in Christchurch that went bust in May last year after financial trouble and a hack, thought to be New Zealand biggest heist, that hijacked about $25 million worth of digital currencies.
Cattermole is offering to organise a class action against Cryptopia’s liquidator to hasten the recovery of currency held by the failed company. The businessman, who once stood for the Christchurch mayoralty and has directed four companies now in liquidation, has also promoted his own digital coin Cog to group members.
* Cryptopia liquidator knocks-back international buyer
* Cryptopia first liquidators report shows it owes more than $4.2m
* Police dispute claims more cryptocurrency taken from Christchurch company Cryptopia
Claiming God’s grace has forgiven him for past wrongs, he has told the group he is days away from signing an agreement with lawyers who will “start the legal process” if the liquidator “doesn’t play ball”.
This would “ideally see our class action account holders settled but the liquidator and other account holders held up in legal accountability for easily two to five years”, he said.
His motivation? “I have always for some reason had a passion for helping the little guy and I really hate injustices that have happened.”
Cattermole was a controversial figure in his advocacy for earthquake victims and told Stuff in 2015 he was leaving New Zealand because of persistent media scrutiny.
“I’m going to pack up all my business and I’ll move away. I’m not going to invest any more time, money, create any jobs or invest in this country … I’ve had a gutsful of people like you [this reporter].”
In 2005, he was found guilty in the Christchurch District Court on two charges of unlawfully using documents. He said the convictions have been “wiped” from his record. Two years before, the Securities Commission banned advertising of an online investment scheme offered by Endeavour Portfolio Corporation, founded by Cattermole and registered in the West Indies. Cattermole said the scheme was based on legal advice.
In 1995, the High Court ordered Cattermole to move out of the priest’s flat at Erskine College in Wellington after he signed a contract to buy the school but did not pay.
His current LinkedIn profile claims he is an “author, coach and mentor to many CEOs and business owners”.
Cattermole said the Facebook group was more of a support page and declined to name the lawyers who would pursue the class action. Other parties in the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Asia were bigger players in the group, but he was not at liberty to name them.
“I’m not asking anything from anyone,” he said.
He agreed he was connected to a new form of digital currency that was being promoted to the group but had been completely open about it.
In his latest report in June, liquidator David Ruscoe, of Grant Thornton, said delays in releasing the coins held by the 900,000 active investors in the exchange were due to difficulties in establishing ownership and Covid-19.
Many customers had multiple crypto-assets, millions of transactions and potentially more than 900 different crypto assets, his report said.
He has so far spent about $6.3m on the liquidation with $1.8m spent on liquidator’s fees.
Once the reconciliation was complete, he would return to court and seek approval on the proposed distribution model to account holders.
Ruscoe told Stuff he understood it was a difficult time for creditors.
Grant Thornton was not working with Cattermole and had no association with him, he said.
“We are running the liquidation in accordance with our legal requirements for the benefit of all stakeholders. In this respect we have already been to the New Zealand court several times to seek directions and we are bound by the court to uphold Justice Gendall’s directions.”
“We expect that any such action as proposed by Victor Cattermole will just increase the costs and complexity of the liquidation.”